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Wescott upsets the odds, takes Olympic gold

February 16, 2010

America's Seth Wescott upset the form book to win the men's Olympic snowboard cross gold medal on Monday, successfully defending his title from Turin four years ago.

Mike Robertson of Canada settled for silver after Westcott pipped him at the finish line, with Tony Ramoin of France taking bronze at the Cypress Mountain course.

Westcott has had an average World Cup season so far, with one second-placed finish being the highlight, leaving him ninth in the snowboard cross World Cup rankings.

But, riding last in the middle of the race, the 33-year-old made a stunning comeback, overtaking Ramoin, US team-mate Nate Holland and then Robertson.

"The trials didn't go so well. I knew I would be fighting from the bad gate. I was in fourth. Nate (Holland) went down, I reeled in Tony, drove his inside. Mike braked, and I went in," said Westcott.

The US snowboarder said the gold medal had been in his sights all season.

Westcott became the second person to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in snowboard, joining Philipp Schoch of Switzerland who achieved the feat in the parallel giant slalom in 2002 and 2006.

He is also the fourth athlete from the United States to win back-to-back gold medals in a single event at the Winter Games.

"The start is definitely key and the finish," said Robertson, 10th in the World Cup rankings.

"I had the start, but I didn't have the finish today. I just missed the landing on one of the jumps a little bit and he (Westcott) just nailed everything perfectly."

Westcott's team-mate Holland, ranked third in the World Cup points table, was last in the four-man final. He lost control while battling it out with Robertson for first.

There was drama when Australia's Alex Pullin, who had the best time in the qualification rounds, crashed hard in an earlier round Monday.

And in a surprise, France's Pierre Vaultier, who has dominated the sport this season and last month secured his second World Cup with two races to spare, was knocked out in the quarter-final heats.

Meanwhile, reigning world champion and 2009 World Cup winner, Markus Schairer of Austria, failed to overcome his recent injury, three broken ribs, to finish out of the medals.

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